It is the start of a new semester. The campus is buzzing loudly with floods of activity and different stimuli. Your new responsibilities are starting to take effect. Everyone is trying to transition to the new and ever-stressful demands of another semester. In addition to all the new pressures, the winter's brutal cold makes it 10 times more difficult to do anything. For the next few months, you may be pulling all-nighters to finish course papers or to study for exams. You might sacrifice socializing to finish all your work by set deadlines. You may even get so busy that you will neglect basic needs like drinking enough water or consciously making healthy eating choices. All of these physically, mentally and emotionally taxing events are some of the many unique stresses that you will encounter as the semester continues that can be very overwhelming to comprehend and handle. To my knowledge, the average American adolescent college student takes on a full-time course load in addition to any number of extracurricular activities and/or part-time jobs. With all the worries that a college student must face, including academic, financial, social, mental, transportation and medical concerns, to name a few, stress is inevitable! If the stress isn't managed well enough and becomes excessive and prolonged, one has a greater chance of experiencing burnout, a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Overall, your college, family, friends and peers want you to succeed, which will be extremely burdensome to achieve if you are burnt out. Even so, the following advice will help you find that balance you need to do well and stay healthy this semester. Avoiding burnout is manageable and the best time to start is now!
I cannot emphasize this one enough. This may sound like an overused cliche, but getting enough proper restful and regular sleep is vital to your health and performance. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation and irregular sleep schedules are highly prevalent among college students, as 50 percent report daytime sleepiness and 70 percent attain insufficient sleep." Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can do more damage than you might be aware of. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, trouble remembering, moodiness and a higher susceptibility to illness. This can put a student at an increased risk of academic failure, reports of a poorer quality of life and having an accident and/or crises. If you find yourself nodding off during lectures, chugging coffee and gulping energy drinks just to stay awake and focused, you may be feeling tired and in need of some necessary healthful sleep. To put your anxieties at ease and your mind to rest, I recommend setting and adhering to a regular sleep routine every night. Since everyone requires a different number of hours for restful sleep, consider and factor in how much sleep you need in order to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to begin your day. If you have time during your busy schedule to nap, take advantage of this opportunity. I will also acknowledge that stress may make falling asleep a tough ordeal. If you find yourself facing this, talk to your doctor or primary care physician to address this concern. You can also promote a sleep-inducing environment that will make it easier to fall asleep at night by shutting off all lights, adjusting the temperature to a comfortable cool, using calming aromas like lavender and rose and possibly listening to some white-noise or binaural beats if that helps. Overall, your mind, body and spirit will thank you for taking care of your sleep health.
2. Citrus Water
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, "More than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. are not getting enough hydration—probably because they’re not drinking enough water—a situation that could have significant repercussions for their physical health and their cognitive and emotional functioning, according to the first national study of its kind from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health." It can be easy to forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Not to mention, some of us may find plain water too boring to drink. Thankfully, adding citrus to your water can not only make it taste better, but it also contains loads of antioxidants and phytonutrients like enzymes and vitamin C that will improve your immune function and keep you hydrated. Don't forget to drink at least half your body weight in ounces to replenish all the fluids lost during the day. Personally, I have found citrus water to be more effective than coffee for increasing and sustaining my energy levels. Drinking plenty citrus water will surely keep burnout at bay.
This may sound obvious, but taking breaks in between the hectic hustle and bustle of the new semester will really make all the difference. If you find yourself particularly upset at any given point, then that would be a good time to take a break and just relax. Find a safe, comfortable and quiet space. Get into a comfortable position and focus on unwinding, or keep it simple and just breathe! Inhale as if you were smelling the pleasant scent of flowers and exhale as if you were blowing out a candle. Use safe and constructive ways to relax, like mediating, yoga, venting, petting your dog or whatever works best for you to de-stress.
Using these three tips will help you to stay healthy, happy and avoid burning out. If you take only one thing from this article, it is to remember to stay positive!